Complemented by her training in medicine, psychology and anthropology, Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952) developed her philosophy of education based upon actual observations of children.
Children in the primary (pre-school) program possess what Dr. Montessori called the absorbent mind, the ability to absorb all aspects of one’s culture and environment without effort or fatigue. It is during this stage that a child has a tremendous ability to learn and assimilate from the world around him, without conscious effort. During this time, children are particularly receptive to certain external stimuli.
The following areas of activity cultivate the children’s adaptation and ability to express and think with clarity:
- Practical life exercises instill care for self, for others, and for the environment. Activities include many of the tasks children see as part of the daily routine in their home, such as preparing food and washing dishes, along with exercises of grace and courtesy. Through these tasks, children develop muscular coordination, enabling movement and the exploration of their surroundings. They learn to work at a task from beginning to end, and develop their powers of control and concentration.
- Sensorial materials serve as tools for development. Children build cognitive skills, and learn to order and classify impressions by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening, and exploring the physical properties of their environment.
- Language development is vital to human development. The Montessori environment is rich in oral language opportunities, allowing the child to experience conversations, stories and poetry. The sandpaper letters help children link sound and symbol effortlessly, encouraging the development of written expression and reading skills.
- Geography, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music is presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. Children learn about people and cultures in other countries with an attitude of respect and admiration. Through familiarity, children come to feel connected to the global human family. Lessons and experiences with nature inspire a reverence for all life. The comprehensive art and music programs give children every opportunity to enjoy a variety of creative activities, as well as gain knowledge of the great masters.
- Mathematics activities help children learn and understand the concepts of math by manipulating concrete materials. This work gives children a solid understanding of basic mathematical principles, prepares them for later abstract reasoning, and helps to develop problem-solving capabilities.
The importance of the complete three year cycle
Montessori recognized the advantage of educating children in distinct age groupings. Children start when they are 2 ½ to 3 years old and continue till they are six. We strongly encourage parents to have their child enrolled for the entire three-year cycle. The last year is extremely important for a number of reasons. Child is at the age when solidifying his knowledge and is embracing more abstract ideas. In the final year he/she will receive the support and confidence needed in order to succeed and make an easy transition into elementary schooling.